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Ruth Bernhard
Ruth Bernhard

Ruth Bernhard

Country: Germany / United States
Birth: 1905 | Death: 2006

Ruth Bernhard (October 14, 1905 – December 18, 2006) was a German-born American photographer. She was born in Berlin to Lucian Bernhard and Gertrude Hoffmann. Lucian Bernhard was known for his poster and typeface design, many of which bear his name and are still in use. Bernhard's parents divorced when she was 2 years old and she only met her mother twice after the divorce. She was raised by two schoolteacher sisters and their mother. Bernhard's father Lucian was a major proponent of Ruth's work, and advised her frequently.

Bernhard studied art history and typography at the Berlin Academy of Art from 1925 to 1927 before moving to New York City to join her father. She worked as an assistant to Ralph Steiner in Delineator magazine, but he terminated her employment for indifferent performance. Using the severance pay, Bernhard bought her own camera equipment. By the late-1920s, while living in Manhattan, Bernhard was heavily involved in the lesbian sub-culture of the artistic community, becoming friends with photographer Berenice Abbott and her lover, critic Elizabeth McCausland. Her first realization that she was attracted to other women occurred on New Year's Eve 1928 when she met the painter Patti Light. She wrote about her "bisexual escapades" in her memoir.

In 1934 Bernhard began photographing women in the nude. It would be this art form for which she would eventually become best known. In 1935, she chanced to meet Edward Weston on the beach in Santa Monica. She would later say: "I was unprepared for the experience of seeing his pictures for the first time. It was overwhelming. It was lightning in the darkness ... here before me was indisputable evidence of what I had thought possible—an intensely vital artist whose medium was photography."

Bernhard was so inspired by Weston's work that, after meeting him in 1935, she moved to California (where he lived). In 1939, Bernhard moved back to New York for eight years, during which time she met photographer Alfred Stieglitz.

Bernhard was inspired by the small things in her life. In an interview from 1999 with Photographers Forum, Ruth states, "I’m most interested in—the little things that nobody observes, that nobody thinks are of any value". In the same interview she stated that, "Everything is universal" and that she was "very much aware of that". This idea of minimalism drove her passion for photography.

In 1934 Ruth received a commission from the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) to photograph works for the Machine Art exhibition catalog. Her father Lucian Bernhard set up the meeting with MoMA for her.

By 1944 she had met and became involved with artist and designer Eveline (Evelyn) Phimister. The two moved in together, and remained together for the next ten years in Carmel, California. Here, Bernhard worked with Group f/64. Soon, finding Carmel a difficult place in which to earn a living, they moved to Hollywood where she fashioned a career as a commercial photographer. In 1953, they moved to San Francisco where she became a colleague of photographers such as Ansel Adams, Imogen Cunningham, Minor White, and Wynn Bullock.

Most of Bernhard's work is studio-based, ranging from simple still lifes to complex nudes. In the 1940s she worked with the conchologist Jean Schwengel. She worked almost exclusively in black-and-white, though there are rumors that she had done some color work as well. She also is known for her lesbian themed works, most notably Two Forms (1962). In that work, a black woman and a white woman who were real-life lovers are featured with their nude bodies pressed against one another.

In 1967, Bernhard began a teaching career. This same year, Bernhard met United States Air Force Colonel Price Rice, an African American man ten years younger than her, and the two became lovers. They would remain together until his death in 1999. In her 90s, Bernhard cooperated with biographer Margaretta K. Mitchell in the book Ruth Bernhard, Between Art and Life, publicly revealing her many affairs with women and men throughout her lifetime.

A departure was a collaboration with Melvin Van Peebles (as "Melvin Van"), then a young cable car gripman (driver) in San Francisco. Van Peebles wrote the text and Bernhard took the unposed photographs for The Big Heart, a book about life on the cable cars.

In the early 1980s, Bernhard started to work with Carol Williams, owner of Photography West Gallery in Carmel, California. Bernhard told Williams that she knew there would be a book of her photography after her death, but hoped one could be published during her lifetime. Williams approached New York Graphics Society, and several other photographic book publishers, but was advised that "only Ansel Adams could sell black-and-white photography books." Bernhard and Williams decided to sell five limited edition prints to raise the necessary funds to publish a superior quality book of Ruth Bernhard nudes. The ensuing edition was produced by David Gray Gardner of Gardner Lithograph, (also the printer of Adams's books) and was called The Eternal Body. It won Photography Book of the Year in 1986 from Friends of Photography. This book was often credited by Ruth Bernhard as being an immeasurable help to her future career and public recognition. The Eternal Body was reprinted by Chronicle Books and later as a deluxe limited Centennial Edition in celebration of Ruth Bernhard's 100th birthday in October 2005. Carol Williams credited Ruth Bernhard with encouraging her to venture into book publishing, and later published several other photographic monographs.

In the 1980s Bernhard also started to work with Joe Folberg. Folberg bought Vision Gallery from Douglas Elliott (who founded it in 1979) in San Francisco in 1982. Bernhard and Folberg worked together until Folberg's death. The gallery split with Debra Heimerdinger taking over operations in North America and Folberg's son Neil moving the "Vision Gallery" to Jerusalem. In 1984 Ruth worked with filmmaker Robert Burrill on her autobiographic film entitled, Illuminations: Ruth Bernhard, Photographer. The film premièred in 1989 at the Kabuki Theater in San Francisco and on local PBS station KQED in 1991.

Bernhard was inducted into the Women's Caucus for Art in 1981. Bernhard was hailed by Ansel Adams as "the greatest photographer of the nude". Bernhard died in San Francisco at age 101.

Source: Wikipedia


 

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United States
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Belgium
1983
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Canada
1884 | † 1969
Margaret Watkins (1884-1969) was born in Canada. Best known for art and advertising photography executed in New York in the 1920s, Watkins was active in the Clarence White school of photography and a participant in the shift from pictorialism to modernism. Her working life spanned a Victorian upbringing in Hamilton, Ontario, and the witnessing of the first Soviet Five-Year Plan. Watkins' modernism, which involved experimentation and a radical focus on form, transgressed boundaries of conventional, high-art subject matter. Her focus was daily life and her photographs, whether an exploration of the objects in her New York kitchen or the public and industrial spaces of Glasgow, Paris, Cologne, Moscow, and Leningrad in the 1930s, strike a balance between abstraction and an evocation of the everyday, offering a unique gendered perspective on modernism and modernity. Watkins established a studio in Greenwich Village and in 1920 she accepted the position of editor of the annual publication Pictorial Photography in America. Clarence White asked Watkins to join the faculty of his school, where Watkins met other notable photographers, including Alfred Stieglitz and Paul Strand. She worked for Macy's department stores and for the J. Walter Thompson advertising agency, capturing simple domestic objects with a clarity of modernist vision rare in commercial photography at the time. Her landscapes, portraits, nudes, still lifes, and abstractions received praise and attracted controversy. Exhibitions were held in the United States and in Europe. In 1928, Watkins decided to visit her four elderly aunts in Glasgow, Scotland. She traveled throughout Europe, photographing extensively and producing a body of work documenting post-revolution Russia. Her aunts began to take ill, and Watkins remained in Glasgow to help care for them. She drifted from the spotlight of public recognition, and few photographs or negatives exist from this time. Watkins lived in Scotland in seclusion until her death in 1969.
Ruvén Afanador
Colombia
1959
Ruvén Afanador is an internationally renowned photographer of limitless imagination, powerful vision and profound sense of self. He was born in Colombia, and his proud Latin American heritage has inspired his extensive body of work creating an intensely personal language characterized by the balance of bold emotion and delicate nuance. The expressive images in his six books: Torero, Sombra, Mil Besos, Ángel Gitano, Yo seré tu espejo and Hijas del Agua, and his portraiture and fashion editorials, reveal extravagant dreamlike sequences that seem to emerge from Afanador’s original imagination already full grown, always splendid sometimes mischievous, often decadent, all steeped in classic formality. Ruven’s work has appeared in countless publications including New York Magazine, Vanity Fair, Rolling Stone, The Hollywood Reporter, Billboard, The New York Times Magazine, numerous Vogue editions, Tatler, Elle, and The New Yorker. His personal projects have been exhibited in Galleries and Museums in Spain, Italy, Colombia, Argentina, Japan and the United States. His most recent exhibition was at the National Museum of Colombia in Bogota this past winter and spring 2021 and it comprised 60 large format photographs from his Hijas del Agua book project paying homage to the indigenous cultures that have inhabited Colombia for thousands of years. He lives in New York City from where he continues his career photographing the emblematic figures of contemporary fashion, music and film, as well as his personal book projects, always challenging the conventional definitions of gender and beauty. Source: Sarah Laird & Good Company Ruven Afanador was born in Colombia, in the sixteenth century city of Bucaramanga, La Ciudad de los Parques high in the scenic plateau above the Rio de Oro. He lived there until adolescence, surrounded by breathtaking mountains and immersed in old traditions and enchanting rituals that imbued everyday life with mystery and wonderment. Religious ceremonies involved the meticulous costuming of saints and marked every holiday, turning narrow colonial streets into rich visual feasts where ordinary objects acquired symbolic meaning; elaborate beauty pageants showcased glamorous women of deliberate beauty and intentional charm; and long hours were filled with the reading of adventure books or listening to the improbable tales of those coming back from journeys abroad, a peculiar form of imaginary traveling which nurtured an intense curiosity for faraway places. At fourteen, Afanador moved to the United States to attend school in the Midwest, right in the American heartland, a starkly different place from the magical world of his childhood, but one he saw as full of possibilities. And then, while studying art, he discovered photography. “From my first assignment I knew that photography would be my life’s passion”, says Afanador. With that passion, he would transform ordinary reality into captivating splendor. Or, as he himself puts it, “....into my way of seeing things.” After graduation Afanador spent two years in Washington, DC, gaining distinction as a fashion photographer of audacious taste, as well as a portraitist with an original and inventive eye. In 1987 he moved to Milan to broaden his vision, hone his technical skills and build a portfolio. Lack of studio space in the Italian city, forced him to develop techniques for photographing outdoors, in alleyways and streets, on the steps of churches and palazzos, incorporating backgrounds to frame images with texture and depth, a highly conceptual approach that Afanador uses to this day. While in Italy, he also discovered the type of model, that was to become his prototype: interesting rather than conventionally beautiful, of sculpted neck and arms, and the graceful long torso for centuries favored by painters----enigmatic and timeless. He returned from Italy in 1990 with an impressive portfolio, settling in New York and soon coming to the attention of editors at the major magazines. Since then, his distinct fashion editorials, signature advertisements and iconic portraits of the emblematic beauties and powerful male figures of the worlds of contemporary art, literature, music and film, have constantly appeared in the world’s leading fashion, celebrity and portrait magazines. His work has been the subject of numerous exhibitions and installations in galleries, museums and outdoor spaces in Latin America, Europe, Asia and the United States.Source: Fahey/Klein Gallery
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James Hayman is a photographer as well as a film / television director, producer, and cinematographer based in Los Angeles. We asked him a few questions about his life and work.
Exclusive Interview with John Simmons
John Simmons is a multi-talented artist whose work has spanned across decades. Born in Chicago and coming of age during the Civil Rights Era, Simmons' photography started at the peak of political and racial tension of the 1960s, mentored by a well known Chicago Civil Rights photographer, Bobby Sengstacke.
Exclusive Interview with Nick Brandt About The Day May Break
Photographed in Zimbabwe and Kenya in late 2020, The Day May Break is the first part of a global series portraying people and animals impacted by environmental degradation and destruction. An ambitious and poetic project picturing people who have all been badly affected by climate change - some displaced by cyclones that destroyed their homes, others such as farmers displaced and impoverished by years-long severe droughts. We asked Nick Brandt a few questions about the project.
Exclusive Interview with Barbara Cole
For the last forty-five years, artist Barbara Cole has been recapturing the otherworldly mysteries of early photography in a body of work that flows in and out of time.
Exclusive Interview with Daniel Sackheim
Daniel Sackheim is an American Film & Television director and producer best known for his work on such highly acclaimed series as HBO's True Detective Season 3, Game of Thrones, and Amazon’s Jack Ryan. But he is also a talented photographer. We asked him a few questions about his life and work.
Exlusive Interview with Tom Price Winner of All About Photo Awards 2021
Tom Price is the Photographer of the Year, winner of All About Photo Awards 2021 - The Mind's Eye. My co-jurors Keith Cullen, Denis Dailleux, Stefano De Luigi, Monica Denevan, Claudine Doury, Ann Jastrab, Stephan Vanfleteren, Hiroshi Watanabe, Alison Wright and myself were impressed by his work 'Porter' taken from a series of surreal portraits, featuring 'relocated' porters from Kolkata, as a reflection on the experience of migrant workers.
Interview: Jill Enfield by Jon Wollenhaupt
Alternative photography pioneer Jill Enfield comes from a long line of photographers dating back to 1875-the date when her ancestors opened up gift stores in Germany where they sold cameras and other technical equipment. In 1939, after fleeing Nazi Germany, her family opened the first camera store in Miami Beach, where as a child, Jill roamed the aisles. It is easy to imagine that she grew up always having a camera in her hands. With photography imprinted in her DNA, her career path seemed inevitable.
Exclusive Interview with Michael Nguyen
Michael Nguyen is a street and documentary photographer living near Munich, Germany. He is also the co-founder of Tagree Magazine. We asked him a few questions about his life and work.
Exclusive Interview with Jon Enoch
Jon Enoch is a London-based photographer who focuses on portrait and lifestyle photography for advertising and media publications, as well as large organisations. He has won numerous awards for his Vietnamese photography portrait series called cBikes of Hanoi', including the Smithsonian Grand Prize; the Lens Culture Portrait Award and the Portraits of Humanity Award in 2020. The images were also shortlisted for the Sony World Photography Award and they won the gold Prix de la Photographie Paris (Px3) award in 2019. The set of portrait images were featured on the BBC, the Guardian, the Telegraph and went viral on websites across the world.
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Solo Exhibition January 2022
Win an Online Solo Exhibition in January 2022